MALAYSIA has said it will pay US company Ocean Infinity up to $70 million if it can find the wreckage or black boxes of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 within three months.

Transport minister, Liow Tiong Lai, said there is an 85 per cent chance of finding the debris in a new 9653 square mile area identified by experts.

Last Thursday, the government signed a “no cure, no fee” deal with the Houston, Texas-based company to resume the hunt for the plane which disappeared nearly four years ago.

The official search in the southern Indian Ocean was called off last year.

The plane vanished on March 8 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

Liow told a news conference: “The primary mission by Ocean Infinity is to identify the location of the wreckage and/or both of the flight recorders ... and present a considerable and credible evidence to confirm the exact location of the two main items.”

If the mission is successful within three months, payment will be made based on the size of the area searched.

Ocean Infinity will be paid $20m for 1930 square miles of a successful search, $30m for 5790 square miles, $50 for 9653 square miles and $70m if the plane or recorders are found beyond the identified area.

Ocean Infinity chief executive, Oliver Plunkett, said eight autonomous underwater vehicles, which are drones fitted with high-tech cameras, sonars and sensors, will be dispatched to map the seabed at a faster pace.

“We have a realistic prospect of finding it,” he said. “While there can be no guarantees of locating the aircraft, we believe our system of multiple autonomous vehicles working simultaneously is well suited to the task at hand.”

Shin Kok Chau, whose wife, Tan Ser Kuin, was a flight attendant on MH370, said: “I feel very happy but at the same time very panicky whether it can be found or not.

“Now it’s back to four years ago where we have to wait every day [to find out] whether debris can be found.”